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Xiaomi Mi 11 revisited: Is it worth buying one year later?
At Android Authority, we cover a lot of phones, and in 2021, we saw a large variety of devices that were extremely competitive in the flagship arena, with the Xiaomi Mi 11 among those devices. In our original review, we stated that the Mi 11 had “the right price and the right specs to compete with the current crop of flagships in the market.” Of course, that was way back in February 2021.
Now, just shy of a year later, let’s see what’s good and what’s not so good about Xiaomi’s affordable flagship as we revisit and reevaluate the Mi 11.
Check out: The original Android Authority Mi 11 review
The Mi 11 is still an absolutely gorgeous phone. If there’s one thing Xiaomi understood when developing the Mi 11, it’s the combination of fit and feel. You get the typical metal and glass sandwich you’d expect out of a flagship phone, but Xiaomi made this device feel incredibly chic. The Mi 11 has its glass taper around the edges and sides of the aluminum frame, and it makes the transition between the frame, the screen, and the back feel seamless and smooth; paired with the slender aspect ratio, this phone is very easy to hold. Xiaomi also equipped the Mi 11 with a 6.81-inch AMOLED display that curves on all sides, but more on that later.
One of the key aesthetic choices of this phone is its camera module. Compared to the Mi 11 Ultra’s camera setup (which can probably fit the entire population of the Earth, honestly), the squircle setup is far more tamed and discrete, while still giving the device some personality.
Xiaomi’s Mi 11 has an outstanding design that balances sophistication and simplicity paired with excellent color options.
The highlight of the Mi 11’s design in the unit we have on hand is the Horizon Blue colorway. Seriously, look at it, it’s stunning. Xiaomi’s entire Mi 11 lineup comes in a frosted glass finish, and while it still picks up on fingerprints, the way it’s able to refract light and shift colors under certain conditions makes it more fun.
Apart from those highlights, there isn’t much to say about the Mi 11’s design, and that’s a good thing. Most complaints are nitpicking at an otherwise impressively designed device.
However, one definite downside the Mi 11 has is the lack of an IP rating. The lack of an IP rating on this phone might have been justified at this price point a couple of years back, however, with cheaper flagships — notably the Pixel 6 — making this certification a standard, it’s unfortunate to see its absence in the Mi 11.
The display on the Mi 11 is beautiful and surpasses many of the other devices within its price point. The Mi 11 has a 6.81-inch WQHD+ AMOLED panel that supports 120Hz and can go all the way up to 1,500 nits of brightness. The best part: you can enable its high refresh rate and higher resolution at the same time.
It’s worth mentioning the screen is curved, but not how you’d typically expect. Instead of just curving over the sides, the Mi 11’s screen slightly curves over the top and bottom as well, which has the side benefit of making all four sides of the screen’s bezels the smallest they can be. With its resolution, refresh rate, and extremely thin bezels, the Mi 11’s display is still one of the best affordable flagships for media consumption.
Performance and charging
Equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, there’s no question that the Xiaomi Mi 11 can hang like a true flagship, even a year on. In day-to-day usage, the Mi 11 has little to no hiccups running apps and games. Throw in a 120Hz panel and 480Hz touch sampling and you’re not going to miss a beat with this device.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 can hang like a true flagship, even a year on.
While we’re on the topic of fast things, the Mi 11 supports 55W wired charging and 50W wireless charging. Unlike many top phones today, this phone actually ships with a power adapter in the box, so you’ll be able to get those ridiculously fast charging speeds from day one. In terms of actual battery life, it’s nothing too impressive. With the stock display settings of FHD+ and at 60Hz, you’ll make it through a full day of usage, but as soon as you bump it up to the WQHD+ and 120Hz, you’ll definitely need to charge closer to the evening.
The not so good
The Xiaomi Mi 11’s camera module sports a main wide, an ultrawide, and a telemacro. On paper, this looks to be a flagship-level setup, especially with a 108MP main sensor and video recording available up to 8K at 30fps, but in execution, the camera on the Mi 11 is a mixed bag.
I want to be clear here, the camera on Mi 11 isn’t bad by any means, it’s simply just not on par with other flagships at this price point. The main sensor pulls some very pleasing results, and the 12MP ultrawide can produce some decent shots in the right conditions. When it comes to the telemacro lens, however, it feels like a waste of space, especially because the quality out of its 5MP sensor doesn’t yield anything extraordinary. Its lens has a narrow field of focus that results in large subjects being partly out of focus, while the image overall looks mushy.
Check out: The best camera phones you can get
Here are couple of samples from the Mi 11’s camera system:
My biggest gripe with the whole camera experience on the Mi 11 was its handling of skin tones. The device can shoot great photos of people in proper lighting, but it misses the mark with color accuracy that makes skin look a bit unnatural. Paired with the phone’s beautification and skin smoothing, the final result can look overprocessed.
As you can see, none of these pictures are inherently “bad” by any means, but when looking at similarly priced phones like the Pixel 6, Samsung’s Galaxy S21, and the iPhone 13 series, the Xiaomi Mi 11 can’t consistently keep up with those phones in terms of image quality, color accuracy, and sharpness.
Long-term software support
Xiaomi’s history of software support isn’t the greatest, and there’s no telling whether the Mi 11 will support Android 13. When we asked Xiaomi on how many system updates will be made available to the Mi 11, they simply stated: “The updates cycles of our devices are in accordance with our agreements with Google and comply with corresponding policies.” That isn’t exactly reassuring.
Officially, the Mi 11 supports Android 12 and will get security updates through 2024, but compared to the iPhone 13s and Pixel 6s of the world, the software situation on the Mi 11 is still on the rocks. This is especially frustrating when Xiaomi has upped its promises with some recent phones, but seems unwilling to share the love with its previous flagship-tier devices.
Xiaomi Mi 11 review revisited: The verdict
The Xiaomi Mi 11 was an intriguing device at launch priced at €749/£749 (and around $699 via import to the US), and has only grown more so due to periodic price drops. We expect this trend to continue once the recently-announced Xiaomi 12 series hits the global market. While still a solid phone especially when found on sale, you may want to wait until the Xiaomi 12 releases globally to properly evaluate whether the Mi 11 is worth buying today. Furthermore, other devices like Google’s Pixel 6 and Samsung’s recently launched Galaxy S21 FE arguably fix the weaknesses of the Mi 11 with their IP ratings and better camera systems.
As we mentioned in our original review, Xiaomi delivered on a sub-flagship experience at a competitive price, but not without cutting a few corners in some key areas. As such, the camera and long-term software support are still the weak points of this otherwise competitive device. If you’re willing to look past these weaker areas of the phone, you’ll be pleased with the Mi 11’s stunning design, display, and performance.